Total distance: 24.8 km. Estimated hiking time: 6 hours.
Yesterday we finished up stage 4 which was so far the most challenging of the trails. It was just a little longer than the 2nd and 3rd, but for those and other reasons, it felt like it went on forever.
The trail starts out in Hennigsdorf, the train station was very easy to get to with the S25. From there we set off.
After just a kilometer or more, we were out in the nature walking along side a marsh. And soon were following along the Briese river as most of the trail does. At times the Briese was just a small creek, and at others it gave us a surrounding of endless marshlands views.
The photo below was a bit ironic, as you see there were many trails marked. But this was the least well marked of all the trails so far, and we got lost as a result. Which is also funny because I had downloaded the Google Earth app and we tried using map data from WanderKompass.de to navigate, but running a GPS/Maps app drains battery quickly, so we had to keep shutting our phones off. And since Google Earth doesn’t offer a way to keep the trail coordinate data stored, each time we wanted to see if we were on the trail, we had to re-download the map data. What became even more problematic was the trail markers we did find weren’t always consistent with the map screenshots.
Even as we walked through areas of civilization, there were many beautiful, peaceful cottages and homes. It was nice to see how others outside the city live. It looked nice!As we stopped in Hohen Neuendorf for a quick photo snap and some Ritter sport, I noticed a man with a blue backpack, who we’d seen a bit earlier. He looked at us and gave a quick smile. I presume he realized we were both walking the same trail.
Whole stretches of the trail were on raised paths like this one (below), that gave a feeling of entering into an untouched ecosystem. It was special. When we reached the other end of the raised trail, there was a bench made of tree logs. The man with the blue backpack was seated there, looking through a book and eating a snack. We took the lead ahead of him. Having seen him three times now, I knew it wasn’t just one small leg of the trail we were sharing with him, he was definitely on the 66 Lakes Trail like us.
From kilometer 14-20 we saw one marker. And spent much of the time walking on the wrong side of the Briese river. But even as the madness of feeling lost and not seeing markers for several kilometers crept in, we stumbled upon this small lake which was more like a natural damn. And some green algae collected on the surface created a beautiful bright green sheen with the erie look of trees growing out from it, like they had been cemented in.
At the very end we finally reached Wensickendorf. A small farm town where even houses on the main road had small chicken hutches in their side lots. When we reached the main road and trail end, there was no train station in site. A man stepped out of a small corner shop, I turned to him to ask where the train station was, before I could mutter more than “entschuldigung” he said “Die Bahnhof is da lange” pointing down the road. I guess that’s what most people who look like us normally talk to the locals about.
The wrong turns added another 4km to our hike and in the last hour it definitely felt like we had reached our the limit. But we still finished on schedule (6 hours of hiking) and caught our train back just as the sun started to set.At the train station, the man with the blue backpack was seated, reading a book and enjoying the sunset. I thought about talking to him. But my feet hurt so much, I just wanted to start relaxing and get the throbbing down. Maybe we’ll see him again. But probably not. It’s nice to know we’re not doing it alone.